Watercraft Stewards Battle Water Chestnut!

Watercraft Stewards Battle Water Chestnut!

In the month of July, our Stewards have been working hard at removing Water Chestnut around the Finger Lakes Region and Central; NY. Water Chestnut is a fast-growing floating annual plant with rosettes that float above the water. The chestnuts are found underneath the rosettes and have barbs that can pierce tires (or go through a sandal…. Ouch!).

Photo credit: Nyis.info

Water Chestnut is native to Europe, Asia, and Africa. it was first discovered in North America in the 1800’s, and has since been spreading throughout the country. Water Chestnut out competes native plants. When it decays, Water Chestnut can reduce the oxygen levels in the water, and can lead to fish kills. If left in the body of water without intervention, Water Chestnut can spread rapidly causing dense mats that make it difficult for people to fish and otherwise recreate.

There are two ways of eradicating this invasive plant. You can treat the infestation with herbicide, and you can mechanically remove the weed with a harvester or by hand. Hand pulling is a great way to remove Water Chestnut before the seeds mature in mid-August. Each chestnut contains seeds that can be viable for 25 years! Hand pulling often includes any number of people traveling to infested areas in canoes or kayaks to pull out the plants from the surface of the water. Once the infestation has been cleared, the pulled plant material is collected and either disposed of, or used as a compost.

Throughout New York State, various organizations have been working together to organize volunteer, community, and contracted events that are focused on eradicating Water Chestnut populations from infested areas. One of the Water Chestnut pulls this season was held at Lewis Point on Oneida Lake, northeast of Syracuse, NY. Cornell Cooperative Extension of Onondaga County and the Oneida lake Association sponsored this pull, and helped with the organization and administration of the event. The Finger Lakes Institute’s Water Chestnut Field Team was there to help out as well! Recently graduated; and current college students, local to the Finger Lakes region make up the field team. The team travels around the Finger Lakes region eradicating Water Chestnut throughout the summer months. Additionally, the Finger Lakes Institute’s Watercraft Steward Program provided help in the form of two stewards, our two regional coordinators, and our program manager came along to help out as well! Together we pulled more then 2,500 pounds of Water Chestnut! Many hands make a huge difference in the eradication of invasive species.

Photo Credit: Sam Beck-Anderson

The Finger Lakes Institute’s Watercraft Steward Program tries to send as many stewards on these pulls as possible for a few reasons. First, we want stewards to have hands on experience in eradicating invasive species. The primary job of a steward is prevention of invasive species. By participating in Water Chestnut pulls, stewards are given the experience of invasive species eradication, and ultimately a better understanding of multi-disciplinary AIS control. Second, we find that meeting like minded people who share a common interest, or getting to know some of their fellow stewards can be a personally enriching experience. And again; many hands make a big difference in the fight to stop the invasion!

The following are some quotes from some of our stewards who have participated in Water Chestnut pulls this summer:

“Every time that i attend a Water Chestnut pull… I walk away with a sense of accomplishment. Seeing the massive amount of Water Chestnut that we ended up with at the end of the day made the entire experience worthwhile.” -Cara Miller, Montezuma

Photo Credit: Cara Miller

“It was a great experience to interact with, and make connections with people who share the same outlook on Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS).” -Chris Cramer, Montezuma

Photo Credit: Chris Cramer

“It was really cool to see the difference that we made after a few hours of pulling Water Chestnut out of the water. Seeing the huge pile of water chestnut we accumulated by the end of it, made me feel like we made a notable difference. Hopefully it made it easier on the native species that the water chestnut was out-competing.” -Rachael Church, Oneida Lake

Photo Credit: Rachael Church

“Had a blast out on the water getting a little wet and muddy…while making positive strides towards the management of AIS.” -Candace Schermerhorn, Oneida Lake pull

Photo Credit: Sarah Powers

Keep an eye out for Water Chestnut pulls in your area! They are a fun way to make a big difference!



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